Delhi Now

The Indian Express,14 April 2010


Delhi Now

After Bulgaria, novelist Rana Dasgupta looks at the Capital in his next book

Rana Dasgupta expresses a certain amount of wonder at having won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book on Monday evening. “It was a surprise. I’m delighted to have won the prize. Solo was about a very strange and private process and I did not know how many people the book would reach out to. The prize is a validation that it did,” says Dasgupta.

Solo (HarperCollins, Rs 395) is the story of Ulrich, a 100-year-old Bulgarian man, who, having realised that time is running out for him, begins to gather his memories together lest they fade away after his death. Dasgupta’s next project, however, is a non-fiction book about Delhi , a city he moved to nearly a decade ago from the UK . “ Delhi has been described historically and physically but there has been little writing that has reflected on changes the city has undergone in the past 10-15 years or so. More importantly, what do those changes mean for the city and for the world,” says Dasgupta, whose first foray into writing about the Capital was when he wrote an eye-opening piece titled “Capital Gains” for Granta magazine last year. “You could say that essay, which was about money, was the start and that will be the style of the book. It will be a quest to discover Delhi through various aspects of human life,” says Dasgupta.

While several non-fiction writers have written about Delhi in the past two years—including Sam Miller’s Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity in 2009 and Delhi Metropolitan: The Making of an Unlikely City by Ranjana Sengupta in 2008— Dasgupta says he would like to capture the city’s enormous vitality in his book. “Delhi has a huge energy for people of all fields, especially the creative ones, such as writers, filmmakers, musicians. The city is at a moment where there is a great sense of possibility, of new thing emerging. That energy is an asset,” says Dasgupta who has just begun writing the book and murmurs that he must not talk so much about it now. It is set for a 2012 release.